Marriage Therapist

Job Duties

Marriage therapists work with individuals, couples, families, and organizations to help them resolve personal and emotional conflicts. They employ a wide variety of principles, methods, and techniques to their work. They help people examine their perceptions of certain situations and suggest changes they can make in the way they look at problems. They attempt to help people change their behavior and enhance their communication skills. The goal is to increase their clients understanding of each other’s points of view and to prevent family and individual crises from occurring. Some marriage therapists work in nonmedical psychotherapy. They may refer patients to psychiatric resources. They may also work in research and teaching related to human development.

Job Skills

Those interested in becoming marriage therapists should have a number of desirable traits. They should be interested in counseling and helping people who are experiencing challenging situations. They need to be able to inspire trust and respect in their clients. They should have the ability to work independently without supervision. They also need to be able to adhere to the code of ethics for their counseling certifications and licenses.


In 2002, marriage therapists earned a median annual salary of $35,580. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $20,960, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $59,030.

Training and Education

A master’s degree is the most common minimum requirement for marriage therapists. This is usually a requirement to be licensed or certified. In some States, therapists who are employed by public agencies are required to have a master’s degree, while some States only require a bachelor’s degree. College courses include study in college student affairs, education, gerontological counseling, marriage and family counseling, substance abuse counseling, rehabilitation counseling, agency or community counseling, clinical mental health counseling, counseling psychology, and career counseling.

There are about 176 institutions in the U.S. that have counseling programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Many therapists become voluntarily certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc., earning the credential of “National Certified Counselor.” Voluntary certification is also offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. Therapists can advance to become supervisors or administrators, or they may move into research, consulting, or college teaching. You can explore more about training for marriage therapist careers by clicking on this link for schools offering human services degrees.


In 2002, marriage therapists held about 122,00 jobs. A growing number are self-employed.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of marriage therapists is expected to increase faster than the average. There are usually fewer graduates of counseling programs each year than there are job openings, resulting in very favorable opportunities. Demand for marriage therapists will grow mainly because of a growing societal acceptance of people who seek professional help with their personal and family problems. More employers are offering programs in which employees can receive help with mental health and alcohol and drug abuse problems. More and more people will turn to marriage therapists for help with these problems, as well as for assistance with improving their everyday well-being and stress management.